They had died when helping thwart a plan to undermine the government of the United States. Now Ben and Susan have returned from the dead and they must bring that government down. Standing in their way are Michael Black and Michelle Gray, the bodies of whom they now occupy.
-(The Story begins HERE)-
Both noting and ignoring the visible shock on our faces, Professor Jordan shuffled past us. He stopped before a bookcase and removed a book from the uppermost shelf. The shelving unit and a section of the wall swung open to reveal the entrance to another room. After motioning for us to follow he disappeared through the portal.
As with the other hidden passages the entrance to the room closed behind us. At first glance, save a table and several chairs, the paneled room appeared spartan and without purpose.
At the far end of the room the professor busied himself with two rows of switches on a recessed panel. Next to me a small section paneling slid open to reveal a coffee station, the aroma from the fresh-brewed liquid assaulted our senses. "Help yourself," he chuckled without moving away from the panel.
"Professor," I said with raised voice, "This is not a social visit ..."
"Tut-tut," he countered cutting my protest short as he continued flipping each switch one after the other.
"Michael," Michelle noted shrugging her shoulders, "something tells me we're going to need that coffee."
We gasped in union as the entirety of the paneled wall came to life with sliding doors and dropping counter tops. There was a cacophony of whirring servos and swishing hydraulics as the wall gave way to reveal a room-length bank of sophisticated state-of-the-art electronic equipment. Behind us the opposite wall underwent the same transformation.
"I must say this quite an impressive collection of equipment, Professor. I would think that the cost for all of this would exceed the meager salary of a college professor," I opined aloud.
He nodded and moved over to the coffee station and poured himself a cup, "Bishop King, your benefactor ... and mine, spared no expense when he had this insuperable place constructed. He feared that the government and the military would eventually want complete control of our research."
"He was right, of course," Michelle said sipping from the cup she'd filled with the steaming coffee.
He sat his cup upon the table and took a seat. He removed his eyeglasses which had become fogged from the steam rising from his coffee. He rubbed the lenses on his shirt sleeve and winked, "Ah, yes. Imagine their chagrin, however, when they learned they did not have exclusive control."
"Knock on wood!" I said rapping my knuckles on the table. "Why didn't they just eliminate everyone involved with the research?"
He returned the glasses to his face and positioned them on the bridge of his nose until he was peering above the frames. "They did eliminate some, the one's they considered the greatest threat to them. There was that quadriplegic veteran who had complete access to King's computer network ..."
"Jimmy," I muttered, "my neighbor."
Jordan nodded, "Yes. Then there was a certain nosy reporter and his girlfriend. They weren't involved directly with the research, but they knew too much."
Michelle placed her hand on mine, "Ben and Susan. Then ... they don't know about the transfer?"
He shook his head, "As far as I've been able to ascertain ... no."
I leaned forward and stared at him for a moment, "Why the sudden interest in you? I mean, you were here as head of the Science Department when we ... er ... Michael and Michelle were conducting their research."
He smiled and arched his eyebrows, "Officially, their research was done without my involvement. It was Bishop's idea, and as it's turned out, a brilliant idea. For the record, I was very much a part of the research. For you see, it was I who originally discovered and developed the project a long time ago."
Confused I grimaced, "But ... King told us he developed the research in Germany during World War II ..."
He extended his arm and pulled his shirt sleeve above his elbow. "I was there." He twisted his arm to reveal a series of faded numbers on his arm.
I let out a breath of air, "You were in a Nazi concentration camp?"
"Yes, Auswitch, " he replied pointing to his arm, "This is my souvenir, my reminder of those terrible times." As if sickened by the visible tattoo he rolled his sleeve back down to his wrist. "While Bishop was able to use my discovery to escape the Nazis, I was not. With the news of the Allied landing on the beachheads of France they began to roundup the remaining Jewish scientists so that we would not fall into the hands of the enemy. We were loaded onto those awful cattle cars and ... well, you know about those death camps."
"No disrespect for your ordeal, Professor Jordan," I said, "but we need to discuss the present."
He appeared crestfallen but nodded in agreement. "Yes, you're right of course." He drained the remaining liquid in his cup and declared, "First and foremost, there is the matter of your identity crises."
Michelle slammed her fist on the table spilling her cup of coffee in the process. "That holographic recording ... it said we were back in our original bodies! I'm not Michelle Gray ... I'm Susan Parsons!" She pointed at me, "He's Ben Bering ... not Michael Black! Identity crises? You're goddamn right we have identity crises. These are not our bodies!"
He nodded almost apologetically, "I'll try to explain, to fill in those memories that have been erased from your minds. I do understand what you're going through. I'm dealing with an identity crisis of my own."
Puzzled by his last remark I stammered, "What's that? Are you saying you aren't ... you?"
Before he could answer a chirping sound was emanating from Michelle's pocket. She viewed the screen of her cell phone and announced, "It's Brock O'Day." Activating the phone and placing it on speaker she answered, "Yes, Sergeant."
"Michelle, is Michael with you?" he queried.
"I'm right here, Brock," I said aloud. "What's up?"
"That bank robbery I was called on ... it was a man and a woman. I have them in custody."
"Okay," I said, "But why are calling us?"
"It's like this, they will not make a statement unless the both of you are here," he replied. "They won't talk to anyone but the two of you."
Michelle piped in, "I don't understand. Why us?"
"Trust me, you're going to want to talk to these two. I have in front of me none other than Ben Bering and Susan Parsons!"
Talking To Ourselves )